Australians have been warned about the potential risks of buying and selling food on social media sites.
The Food Safety Information Council (FSIC) said meals were prepared in unregulated home kitchens and offered on social media sites such as Facebook and WeChat.
The health promotion charity said the practice had significantly improved since the May 2020 lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and included a variety of foods such as curries, spring rolls, dumplings, grilled meats and seafood.
Cathy Moir, chairman of FSIC, said the sale of unregulated food through social media sites puts people at risk, as they are unlikely to meet the required food safety standards.
“We first became aware of this practice after media reports in May 2020 and since then it has improved significantly with a variety of high-risk foods such as curries, spring rolls, dumplings, grilled meats, baked goods, pasta, seafood and even raw sausages. offered. This unregulated sale of food is a significant food safety risk. “There is a real risk of food poisoning, which in its worst form can have severe health consequences,” he said.
A growing trend
Home food businesses need to meet the same food safety requirements as other companies regardless of size or how often they sell food. Before starting, businesses must notify local councils and some people may need formal training, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
Moir said new sellers were constantly popping up, which was weighing on healthcare.
“Government enforcement agencies and local councils are clamping down on this unregistered food business, as and when they realized it. The rules around the production and sale of food are very strict for a reason, and anyone selling food must comply with these regulations in their state or territory. This requires specialized food safety knowledge and controls covering hygiene, safe cooking and cooling rules, proper refrigeration, safe storage and transportation, “he said.
Another reason to be wary of such sales is the risk of an allergic reaction, said Moir.
“Licensed sellers must also be aware of labeling requirements, including allergens in their food, so they can inform consumers. Food prepared in a home kitchen or backyard BBQ is unlikely to meet these standards. When in doubt, don’t risk buying unsafe food. Support your local food business, either in a store or by ordering online. “
FSIC advises people to ask themselves whether a food pick-up location is a home address, does the vendor have a website or social media page that proves it is a licensed food business and, if not, whether there is evidence that they have a food license or are a registered business , and whether the food was cheaper than expected.
For those considering turning a hobby into a business, the charity recommends contacting local councils for help, taking online food safety training courses on its website and seeking advice from local farmers markets on how to legally sell food.
Image in England
Compliance issues with online food sales on the Facebook Marketplace or supplements on platforms like Amazon have been raised in the past with investigations in the UK by BBC and The Grocer.
In April this year, the City Council of Newcastle issued a warning about the safety of homemade food sold online.
The city has seen an increase in the number of people advertising homemade food on social media sites and instances of people offering to cook and deliver food to others for money. Advertising food prepared at home is told to register as a business and does not risk people’s health.
Board Member Nick Kemp said the board appreciates the situation because of the pandemic with people wanting to keep themselves busy, trying to help the community and looking for opportunities.
“But standards are put in place to ensure food products are safe for consumption, made following strict hygiene regulations and prepared to standards that do not endanger public health. So please realize that selling food from home makes you as responsible as any restaurant, cafe or shop for the quality of your products, so it’s important for people to stick to the rules, ”he said.
This trend encourages the Food Standards Agency published guidelines in August for individuals starting a food business from home.
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